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Mortgage rates creep down toward 4%

Mortgage Rates Drop Again

Maybe the days of rock-bottom mortgage interest rates aren’t numbered, after all.

Rates dropped 0.09 percentage point this week to 4.23% for a 30-year, fixed -rate home loan, according to the latest weekly report from Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rates started the year at 4.53%, and have sunk each week in 2014, falling a total of 0.3 percentage point.

Borrowers with a 4.23% mortgage would pay $982 a month on a $200,000 balance, compared with $1,017 on a 4.53% loan.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, attributed the move to cooling home sales.

“Mortgage rates fell further this week following the release of weaker housing data,” he said. “The pending home sales index fell 8.7% in December to its lowest level since October 2011.”

The drop in mortgage bond purchases by the Federal Reserve, the so-called taper, that started last month, was expected to push rates gradually higher.

But worrisome economic news and a plunge in stocks has counter balanced the Fed action, according to Keith Gumbinger of HSH.com, a mortgage information company. Anxious investors have scurried to safe havens like treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities.

“Much to the benefit of mortgage shoppers, this move [to bonds] is dragging down yields and mortgage rates,” said Gumbinger. “This is a nice surprise” for people looking to purchase or refinance their homes in a rising rates environment, he said.

Rates may keep dropping, according to Gumbinger.

“The reduction in Fed support, slowing manufacturing activity here and in China, some less-than-stellar figures on consumer spending, housing, and more are causing some concern that the economy has decelerated over the last couple of months,” he said. “The economy doesn’t need to slow very much to put us back into the kind of funk we’ve been hoping to escape since the recovery began several years ago.”

SOURCE: CNN Money

What’s My Home Worth? Free Market Analysis

Double-Digit Gains for Home Prices in 2013

Home prices made double-digit gains in 2013, posting the highest annual rate of increase since 2005, according to CoreLogic’s latest housing report, released Tuesday. Ten states and the District of Columbia reached new all-time price peaks last year.

“We expect the rising prices to attract more sellers, unlocking this pent-up supply, which will have a moderating effect on prices in 2014,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

CoreLogic’s latest report echoed an earlier report from the National Association of REALTORS® that showed a strong gain in home prices in 2013. The median sales price for all of 2013 was $197,100 in December, 11.5 percent above the 2012 median price, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ December existing-home sales report.

December Existing-Home Sales Rise Strongest in Seven Years

But CoreLogic’s report showed that home prices have eased slightly the last three months. Home prices dropped by 0.1 percent from November to December, and the year-over-year price increase has slowed, the report says. CoreLogic’s report does not adjust for seasonal patterns.

Nevertheless, “the healthy and broad-based gains in home prices in 2013 help set the stage for the continued recovery in the housing sector in 2014,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “After six years of fits and starts, we can now see a clearer path to a durable recovery in single-family residential housing across most of the U.S.”

The following states had the highest home-price appreciation, including distressed sales, according to CoreLogic:

  • Nevada: 23.9%
  • California: 19.7%
  • Michigan: 14%
  • Oregon: 13.7%
  • Georgia: 12.8%

SOURCE: Realtor Magazine

NEW DIRECT FLIGHTS – Denver to Sun Valley

United Airlines will offer nonstop service between Denver and Sun Valley this summer, and those involved in securing the service say they hope it will continue next winter.

The new route, which will add 5,500 additional seats into Sun Valley for the summer, was announced Monday by Fly Sun Valley Alliance, the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Sun Valley Resort, which worked in partnership to secure the new flights. The route will be supported by a U.S. Department of Transportation Small Communities Air Service Development Program Grant for $500,000, awarded to the airport last fall.

CRJ 700 cockpit - New direct flights from Denver to Sun Valley

The United Express flights will run from July 2 through Sept. 23, 2014, and be operated by SkyWest Airlines using CRJ 700 regional jet aircraft with 70 seats—six in first class and 64 in economy, including 16 extra-legroom seats. The flight will run daily from July 2 to Aug. 25 and five times per week from Aug. 26 to Sept. 23.

The three local partners stated that they are working with United to add winter service for the Denver-Sun Valley route, and hope to confirm a contract by late spring for next winter.

A press release states that the flight schedule has been structured to take full advantage of connections from all major eastern markets:

  • Departs DEN at 7:15 p.m., arrives SUN at 9:03 p.m.
  • Departs SUN at 7:30 a.m., arrives DEN at 9:11 a.m.

This new nonstop route to Sun Valley will allow additional connectivity to eastern U.S. cities and other destinations in United’s global route network

Vic Kerckhoff, United’s director of leisure sales

“We are pleased to be expanding our service to the Sun Valley market and look forward to a long-term successful partnership.”

The new flights can be booked on www.united.com.

VIDEO: Idaho – Nothing to whine about here . . .

A new video from Idaho’s wine industry tries to debunk a myth about a certain Idaho agricultural product.

“It gets tiring,” a bearded man says to the camera. “Everywhere I go … people just assume I make wine. They say things like, ‘Oh, you’re from Idaho. You must work at a winery.’ … Truth is, I’m a potato farmer.”

The tongue-in-cheek video cuts to a brown-haired woman describing her struggle, as an outfitter, to convince wine-happy tourists to take a chance on Idaho’s rivers and outdoor activities. She sulks outside a wine bar, looking through a window at people wearing berets and sipping glasses of red.

The video “Idaho: More Than Just Wine!” was created by the Idaho Wine Commission. The commission used $7,000 from a recent grant to hire the Boise company Rizen Creative to make a video.

“You guys, we need a wine video, and whenever I travel, people make potato jokes,” Moya Shatz Dolsby, executive director of the wine commission, told the marketing and production team. “The [Idaho] Potato Commission has done a phenomenal job, so let’s play off it.”

She asked the team to play off Idaho’s well-known rivers and outdoors, too.

Rizen worked with local actors Aaron Kiefer and Lisa Hawkes and local videographer Travis Swartz, shooting over a day and a half in late October.

Katie Meyers, account manager for Rizen, knew the video “had to resonate, break through all the video clutter out there — something that was memorable and funny,” she said.

The commission plans to enter the video in a contest this August for Wine Spectator magazine.

Since the video went live on YouTube in mid-January, Dolby has been addicted to watching the number of views climb into the thousands, she said.

Idaho Potato Commission CEO Frank Muir hadn’t seen the video — he’d only heard about it — when the Statesman called him to ask his thoughts on Idaho’s wineries riffing on the famous spud.

With a reporter hanging on the phone line, Muir watched the video on his computer. There were chuckles. And a belly laugh or two.

“That’s cute,” he said. “I think it’s a great parody.”

SOURCE: Idaho Statesman

Bargin Airfares to Sun Valley!

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Special Air Fares to Sun Valley Idaho

Lower Down-Payment Requirements for Jumbo Loans

Private jumbo-mortgage originations are on pace to reach the highest level since 2007, as lenders are offering low down-payment requirements to lure more borrowers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Many small lenders, such as community banks and credit unions, say they are willing to cover jumbo loans with 5 percent to 10 percent down payments now, according to the Journal.

As home values rise, banks are experimenting with loosening up lending standards by targeting private jumbo loans as a way to increase their business share. In most parts of the country, jumbo loans are those that are $417,000 and higher; in some of the most expensive markets, jumbo loans are $625,500 or more.

But with low down-payment requirements for jumbo loans entering the arena, that means a comeback for the private mortgage insurance industry. The insurance, which protects lenders in case a borrower defaults, is charged to borrowers who usually make less than a 20 percent down payment. Private mortgage insurers are reportedly lowering their costs and increasing the size of mortgages they’ll cover to accommodate jumbo borrowers.

Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. raised the maximum mortgage it will insure from $750,000 to $850,000 last month; Genworth Mortgage Insurance raised its maximum level from $625,500 to $850,000; United Guaranty recently started offering a limited program for loans up to $1 million.

The move by private lenders to increase low-down-payment jumbo loans comes as the Federal Housing Administration started reducing the amount of high-cost mortgages that it will insure in about 650 counties. As of Jan. 1, FHA loans in high-cost areas have been capped at $625,500, reduced from $729,750.

SOURCE: Realtor Magazine

VIDEO: Ho Ho Handrails Holiday Rail Jam

This is a video of the first rail jam of the season this past Friday at Dollar Mountain in Sun Valley Idaho.

Thanks to the Sun Valley Resort we can share this video.

Buyers Get Extended Offer Period on REOs

HP_FirstLook_Logo_FINAL_041410
Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an extension of their “First Look” programs, granting buyers seeking a primary residence a full 20 days to submit offers on REO properties ahead of investor competition.

Previously, the First Look period was 15 days long. Freddie Mac’s program operates under HomeSteps First Look initiative and Fannie Mae’s version operates under the HomePath system. The expanded 20-day program took effect for HomeStep listings on or after Dec. 17. Fannie Mae’s First Look HomePath program is effective for properties listed on or after Jan. 2, 2014.

The programs are designed to promote owner-occupancy in communities, which the mortgage giants believe contributes to neighborhood stabilization. Some second home purchases are also eligible for HomeSteps First Look program. However, purchases of investments or rental properties are not eligible.

“This is especially important for buyers competing for opportunities in markets where home inventories are shrinking,” says Chris Bowden, senior vice president of HomeSteps. “Expanding the HomeSteps First Look Initiative underscores our commitment to managing HomeSteps’ REO inventory in a way that’s good for taxpayers, homebuyers, neighborhoods, and Freddie Mac.”

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer a 30-day bidding window for buyers in Nevada, a state that has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

SOURCE: Realtor Magazine

Sun Valley Board of Realtors 2013 Holiday Baskets